Herding dogs belong to a special category of dog breeds who were originally developed to work on farms and ranches. Many of the breeds have similar characteristics, though they can range in size and build, from small and stout, to larger and more athletic.
The Shetland Sheepdog, Border Collie, Rough Collie, and Bearded Collie are examples of breeds used for herding. While Border Collies tend to herd sheep, they can also be used for cattle and other livestock. Collies tend to be loyal, protective, intelligent, and very active. If chosen for pets, they should get plenty of exercises daily, including an opportunity to run.
The Australian Shepherd, The Kelpie, and the Australian Cattle Dog (also known as Blue Heelers or Red Heelers) are breeds developed in Australia, known for their herding abilities with both sheep and cattle. The Australian Shepherd has a longer coat like a Collie, though it is often has a Merle or mottled coat color in blues or reds. The Australian Cattle dog also tends to have a Merle coat, though much shorter hair. It is slightly smaller than the Australian Shepherd, though not as small as the Kelpie. The Kelpie tends to have a solid coat color, long pointed ears, and a double coat, like other Australian herding breeds. The Australian breeds of herding dogs require plenty of exercises, human interaction, and if at all possible, a job to do.
The German Shepherd is the most easily identified breed in the Shepherd group, known for the black and tan coloring, upright ears, and short, dense coat. The Pyrenean Shepherd is smaller than the German Shepherd. It has a slightly longer coat, especially around the neck and below the ears. It is not to be confused with the Great Pyrenees, which is a much larger breed known for keeping watch over sheep herds. The Dutch Shepherd is slimmer and slightly smaller than the German Shepherd, with more of a striped, short coat. Most shepherd breeds of herding dogs also make excellent protectors, as they were bred to watch over and protect their herds as well as drive them.
The Rottweiler was originally bred to drive cattle to market and pull small carts, which is why it has a broad, well-developed chest. This breed also serves as a great protector, but needs plenty of guidance and direction, to prevent it from becoming a bully.
The mountain breeds of herding dogs include the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. Both breeds originated in Switzerland. They are both relatively large breeds of herding dogs, with longer, dark coats, and ears that lay flat against their heads. The mountain breeds can have white markings on the chest and face. They can weight over 100 pounds. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog has slightly shorter hair than the Bernese.
Smaller Breeds of Herding Dogs
The Swedish Vallhund and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi are examples of smaller herding breeds. The Swedish Vallhund and Corgi both have shorter legs and a fierce determination to get the job done. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi has a longer, straight tail. It’s coat colors can be brindle or black and tan. The Vallhund’s coat is more of a brownish gray and its tail curls at the end. Both breeds are skilled at herding, but make good pets when they can stay active with games and plenty of exercises. If you’ve found this article to be interesting, then check out this blog post titled A Beginner’s Guide To Dog Breeding.